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soap making .  RSS feed

 
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If you read Laura Ingalls Wilder, her little house i ht ebig woods" a book that is is a list of old fashioned ways of doing things, you will know that they made soap from mixing lye and fat. Amonia cleans thinss becasue it mixes with the fats in the grease in the dirt and makes a soap ly e is nt the only corrosive liquid tha tcan be used in soap making.
muzhic i expect you to help n this thread with your information.

  I don't know how much water you need to use to how much ash, to make the lye for soap making. I am hoping someone else will know, like Muzihic who seems to know a lot about it.

    Lye like amonia can be dangerouse but we do use amonia and bleach and oven cleaner in houses, so we are used to using corrosive materials.

  I saw a family twenty years ago, cooking up fat they had bought from the butcher so it would let off its fat so they could make soap with it. Pig or beef fat.
  Things like olive oil also do for making soap.

    Soap, apart from helping dislodge the dirt from the body or clothes is disinfectant according to the biology teacher i had at school, now forty years ago. so when you wash a cut you disinfect it, though you may also put more and an alternative disinfectante on the cut for good measure. my teacher  would, if taken straight from the classes to now, to 2010, look modern now. She was a god teacher, I doubt i would be writting here if she had not been, i am not a science person.
agri rose macaskie, Hoping that others can flesh this out a bit.
 
                        
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Location: Iowa, border of regions 5 and 6
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Rose, we may "use amonia and bleach and oven cleaner in houses", BUT NEVER AT THE SAME TIME!

If you try to make soap the old-fashioned way, you're not going to get anything like soap.  The key is the lye.  Today, you can find soap calculators online that will tell you down to the gram how much lye you need for the mix of oils and fats you're using.  The thing is, that's based on using commercial lye, such as Red Devil, that you can buy in the hardware store.  That's a known concentration.

Making your own lye with ashes will give you lye (sodium hydroxide), but unless you're a chemist you won't be able to determine the concentration.  If you look on the web you can find plans for building something that you can use to make lye.  Basically, you run the water through ashes, and let them drain.  You pour the result through the ashes again, and you keep doing this until the result is strong enough to float an egg so that about a quarter-sized piece is above the surface.

You make the lard (pig fat) or the tallow (beef fat) by melting the fat and pouring the result into a pot of water.  Chill the pot overnight, and the next morning you can pull the resulting fat off the top of the liquid.  Throw the liquid away (maybe use it to feed birds) and if you want, repeat the melting and cooling if you want to make sure it's pure.  From all accounts, the process stinks -- there's a reason why soap makers and candlestick makers were all on the edge of town; preferably the DOWNWIND side of town.

You melt the lard or the tallow and add your lye to the mix.  How much you add, I can't tell you because I don't know how strong your lye is.  It's why soap making was as much art as skill.  You keep stirring the mix until saponification (the process of converting fat to soap) is complete.  What you've got may just be a yellowish goop (what the colonists usually had) that you'd scoop out of the pot as needed, or it may be a harsh white substance that stings (which means you used too much lye -- if you let it cure for a couple of weeks it might "smooth out".)
 
rose macaskie
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muzhik, it is just that i have heard that they are desperately in need of soap in some of the poorer countries and ash is something they are likely to have, as they are likely to cook on fires, so the solution to a lack of soap is iwithin their reach.
  The Ingalls of the Laura Ingall Wilder book, cooked with wood all year round so i suppose they had a lot of ash to make lye with. agri rose macaskie.
 
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Location: Missoula Montana
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Anyone have any soap-making recipies?
 
rose macaskie
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muzhik, it is hard t imagine the efficient colonist of the ingall wilder sort doing things badly they seem to have been very disciplined and knowledgeble accepting that knowledge develops and changes so that wha twe know know is different from what they could have known. I think they would have made their soap turned out exactly as they wanted it too.
 
                        
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Location: Iowa, border of regions 5 and 6
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Rebecca Dane wrote:
Anyone have any soap-making recipes?



Go to the Soap Making Forum ( http://soapmakingforum.com/forum/index.php ) and the Soap Making Forum Tutorials ( http://www.smftutorials.com/ ) for help getting started.  I'm particularly fond of the CPHP (Crock Pot Hot Process) method of making soap because it fits in better with my limited space and budget.  Also, hot processed soaps (that are cooked) don't have to cure for so long before you can use them.  Downside: HP soaps are much harder to scent.

As for recipes, your best bet is to google for them -- there are too many sites out there to name.  One good beginner's recipe is "Sandy Maine's Basic 3-Oil Soap Recipe" ( http://candleandsoap.about.com/od/soaprecipes/r/sandymaine3oilsoaprecipe.htm ).  It's a cold-process (CP) recipe, so no cooking and it will need to cure at least 2-4 weeks before using.

Some things to keep in mind: USE DISTILLED WATER!  Making soap is chemistry, and most drinking water from the tap has minerals that can interfere with the chemistry.  Get a digital scale -- the more accurate your measurements the better your results.  Weigh everything, including the water -- 6 ounces of water does not mean 3/4 of a cup, it means you need to weigh 6 ounces of water in a cup.  And getting a stick blender will make the process SO much simpler!

 
Rebecca Dane
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I found this link on appropedia for making soap.  Gives lots of great ideas and recipes as well!
 
Rebecca Dane
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A few years ago I wanted to get into soap making.  I ordered some easy melt and pour soap and added my own herbs, oatmeal to some, and essential oils.  This was the easy way to do it and I didn't really care for it.  Not just the process, but the quality of the soap itself.  If I did it again I would want to do it the old fashioned way.
 
                        
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Location: Iowa, border of regions 5 and 6
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Rebecca Dane wrote:
A few years ago I wanted to get into soap making.  I ordered some easy melt and pour soap and added my own herbs, oatmeal to some, and essential oils.  This was the easy way to do it and I didn't really care for it.  Not just the process, but the quality of the soap itself.  If I did it again I would want to do it the old fashioned way.



On the soap makers forum, someone recently described the difference between the M&P (melt and pour) and the CP (cold process, or traditional) soap makers was that the M&P were artists, using the soap as a medium to create different visual effects.  The actual quality of the soap was secondary, although some people prefer using glycerin-based soaps.

I wouldn't call current soap-making methods "old-fashioned" (to me, that goes back to making your own lye), but "traditional" in that you use lye to turn either fat or oil into soap.  The difference is that nowadays lye is made to a consistent quality, so you can get soap that is mild and soap that is consistent from batch to batch.

If you go to http://soapmakingforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=21515 , you'll see a discussion on "lye soap".  People have stories about how their grandparents don't want to try the soaps their grandchildren are making because they remember making soap growing up and it was always harsh.  This was because invariably too much home-made lye was added to make sure all the fat (usually lard from a freshly-slaughtered pig, but it could be tallow from a butchered cow) was turned into soap.  The ones that do are surprised at how gentle the present home-made soaps are.  That's because 1) consistent quality and strength of the lye, and 2) ready availability of saponification tables that tell you just how much water and lye to add to the fat/oil you're using.  The soap calculators also add a certain amount of excess oil (called "superfatting", usually 5%) to be added to ensure all the lye is used up, making the soap much more gentle.

Two more thoughts: one thing that is consistently said is how well the old "lye soap" worked at cleaning clothes.  You can find recipes for using only lard (or tallow) and lye with 0% (or NO) extra fat.  This make a very white, very hard soap that is then chopped up, melted, and mixed with extra cleaners (depending on the recipe) to make laundry soap.  At least 99% of the people who have done this are enthusiastic about the results; the other 1% who aren't appear to have used tap water instead of distilled water.  I've also heard this soap is good for people with certain skin conditions, but I can't verify that claim.

The other thought is about a "national brand" soap being sold in hardware stores as "lye soap".  I've heard nothing but bad about this soap.  Apparently they didn't pay attention to the amount of lye being used, didn't allow the soap to cure (you've got to let the soap sit in the air for a couple of weeks in order to allow all the extra lye to be converted to soap; the curing also makes the soap harder), or they used improperly rendered lard because the soap either starts smelling soon after being opened (lard going rancid) or it develops DOS (Dreaded Orange Spots), a sign that something is wrong with your oils.
 
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Rebecca Dane wrote:
Anyone have any soap-making recipies?



I copied and pasted my 'standard' recipes, as posted to another board.  I've pretty well given up on making the hard olive oil soap as the soft soap is so much more versatile.  Some time in the next few months I'm going to experiment with wood-ash soap, but I'm not there yet.

***********************************************************************************

Olive Oil Soap

Soap is easy to make, but you have to handle the ingredients carefully and weigh them accurately.  Here is a basic recipe for olive oil soap.  It's vegetarian and totally biodegradable.  You can save your dishwashing water and use it to water the garden, so you can save money, water and the planet at the same time.  Why not try it and send half of the money you save to Suzie for the donkeys, and treat yourself to something nice with the other half?  It's a win-win-win situation - but please be careful handling the caustic soda.  Don't touch it with your fingers!


500g olive oil
67g caustic soda
145g water - all weighed to the nearest gram if possible.

Measure out the caustic soda and the water into separate containers. Add caustic soda granules to water gently and in a well ventilated place away from children and animals. Stir until all granules are dissolved, but be careful to avoid breathing the fumes. The solution will heat up.

You have to allow it to cool down a little, so in the meantime, weigh out the olive oil (it needs to be accurate - weigh it, don't just guess) place olive oil in stainless steel pan and heat to 55C. On a sunny day you can stand the bottle outside for a while and it will warm up enough.

When both the olive oil and the caustic soda solution are at approximately 55C, turn off any heat and carefully pour the solution into the warm olive oil. Stir. If you are really careful, you can speed things up drastically by using one of those hand held blenders on a stick with a rotating blade on the end. Submerge the end completely (you don't want this stuff splashing in your eyes!!!) and whizz it up for a few minutes. If you don't have a blender, stir every now and then until you reach trace (where it's thick enough to leave a mark on the surface when you trickle a bit of mix on top). With the stick blender it will reach this stage in a couple of minutes - without it might take an hour or two.

When the mix is at trace, you might want to add a few drops of essential oil. Then pour into molds and leave it to harden and cure for a couple of weeks. It's often a bit harsh at first - certainly don't try to use it for two weeks, and a month is better.  I you don't have molds, try pouring into the bottom of used yogurt pots.  Hopefully you will end up with a hard white bar.

If you want an economy version, try using cheap vegetable oil instead of olive oil.  You will need 117g of caustic soda and a litre of water per litre of cheap vegetable oil.  The resulting soap won't form a hard bar, but you can whizz it up with extra water as required and use it as liquid soap.  When this soap is young, the glycerine might separate out a little after whizzing up.  Just whizz it back in or decant it and use as a skin softener.
 
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This is my friend who is establishing an off-grid homestead in northeast NV.
He is a very cool guy with great ideas and he has exposed me to a lot. He was the first one to pose permaculture to me. If you get a chance browse through his other videos, you won't be sorry.


*edited* Figured out how to embed it - huzzah!
 
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I have made soap from tallow and lye. I recomend everyone try to make soap from scratch. the end result of cured bars of soap are really nice.

I did feel nervous about the procedure of making soap as it seemed really dangerous ops:
but it was really easy. plain soap with just the tallow and lye  smells so fresh and clean....only homemade soap has that smell.

a friend had bought me some homemade soap from a farmers market once...it was really pretty and smelled nice, But it had not cured long enough. I took a shower and used the soap and i felt very red and a bit sunburned after the shower......make sure the soap is cured
Great video!
 
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Soap should be cured for 4-6 weeks.
 
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Ronnie Ugulano wrote:Soap should be cured for 4-6 weeks.



That varies depending on recipe, and what you are worried about. Some some is safe (pH won't burn the skin) within hours, some takes months for the lye to fully convert--it is a matter of the recipe used. Drying out (so they last longer in use) takes weeks or months--it is a matter of the recipe, bar size, and storage conditions. The longer you let it cure, the longer it lasts in use--the downside is any beneficial oils can degrade or evaporate off in that time.

 
Ronnie Ugulano
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If it's hot processed, it will be completely safe once it's completely cooked. It will still be very soft and moist, but you could use it (and your pots will easily wash because it's soap!). It's usually not recommended using it earlier than a couple of weeks, despite being entirely safe to use, because it will simply melt down the drain much faster.

If it's cold processed, yes, the lye is possibly mostly consumed within 24-48 hours, but except for a quick hand washing as a test, I would not recommend using it yet in anything less than 4 weeks. I have been making soap for 15+ years, and I (and a large number of other soapmakers that I know) would never let a bar of soap out the door to anyone else in anything under less than 4 weeks, partly due to allowing any lye to be certain to have been consumed, and partly to allow for evaporation.

That varies depending on recipe, and what you are worried about. Some some is safe (pH won't burn the skin) within hours, some takes months for the lye to fully convert--it is a matter of the recipe used.



If the recipe does not allow for all of the lye to be absolutely, completely consumed within 4 weeks, the recipe is wrong, and needs to be reformulated. Any of such soap that was, what we call "Lye Heavy", would best be kept for laundry use only.
 
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